November 14, 2010

Cancelled Discover Card

Got more late fees and finance charges on our discover card, for a bill that we did not receive, yet again ($28 in fees on a $70 balance). This does not happen with any of our other credit cards, and given the track record of David Nelms, I would not discount a systematic scam. Since he joined Discover, the company has continued to increase fees and slam me with "credit protection" forced-phone-offers (where when you hang up on them they enroll you anyway). They call me every couple weeks to try to sell me something.

We've disputed the charges, and I've finally cancelled the card, after being with them since 1994. If you have a Discover Card, you should cancel too. It is not the same company it used to be.

Posted by David at 10:53 AM | Comments (0)

Fixing the Deficit

I love the NYT's "You Fix The Deficit" tool. Maybe the voting booth of the future should work this way. (Except, naturally, it should be in Javascript instead of Flash.)

Here is my vote. What's yours?

Posted by David at 06:51 PM | Comments (1)

November 22, 2010

Stuck Pixel Utility

Ever had a stuck pixel on your LCD screen? Lore has it that if you blink that pixel for a few minutes, you can sometimes unstick it. However, I don't really want to download a program just to blink a pixel.

Here is a stuck lcd pixel utility on an HTML 5 webpage using the <canvas> tag. Arrow keys to aim the blinking pixel, and "r/g/b/w" to switch the color.

Posted by David at 07:22 AM | Comments (2)

November 25, 2010

Lincoln School Construction

I am volunteering on our town's School Building Committee.

The Lincoln K-8 school building is showing its age (with several of the old building systems at or beyond the point of failure), and last year Massachusetts selected Lincoln to be one of the towns to be eligible for state funding for school construction. The state subsidy could cover 40% of a renovation or building project. It is a terrific, once-in-a-generation opportunity to update our school.

It is my first time volunteering in town government, and honestly up to now the work on the committee has been mostly dry.

However, it is starting to get interesting: we are going through the process of evaluating nine architects who have applied to work on the project. Each firm would bring its own personality and set of capabilities to the project, and so we are going through the applications to understand which ones would be the best fit for the Lincoln schools. Because of state funding rules, the Lincoln SBC cannot select an architect on its own. We need to participate in a state architect selection committee on which Lincoln has 3 out of 15 votes. That is all the more reason for us to have a clear idea of who the architects are, and what we are looking for.

A few parents have asked me whether the project will be renovation or construction, or whether some particular thing will we built, and the answer is that it has not been decided yet. The architect's job will be to work with us draw up alternatives. So doing our homework and choosing the architect is a key step. If anybody in Lincoln is interested in finding out about the architects who have applied, I am happy to share. We have many strong applicants, and I am optimistic that we will be able to build a strong team to plan the project.

Posted by David at 10:40 AM | Comments (0)

November 26, 2010

Box2D Web

I am very excited by the latest port of Box2D to javascript. It is called box2dweb, and it is Uli Hecht's Javascript translation of version 2.1a of Box2dFlash, which is in turn the ActionScript port of Erin Catto's C++ Box2D physics engine.

I have modified it a bit to keep the global namespace cleaner here. My version just hangs everything off a single global variable Box2D and avoids modifying things like the the global function prototype object. (This way plays more nicely with frameworks like jquery.) I did the cleanup by hand, but it might be nice to write a script that automates the cleanup and further normalizes the javascript idioms, so we can keep up with new box2d versions.

It's smooth on Chrome and a little jittery on Firefox (sorry IE users). Here is a demo:

In the example above, the balls are bouncier and lighter than the blocks, and the triangles are heavier and slipperier. Fifty objects are dropped on Chrome, and 20 on other browsers.

Posted by David at 12:32 PM | Comments (3)